Looking for a sparkling probiotic beverage that’s easy to make? Try homemade ginger beer! It’s sweet, spicy, and refreshing. Since it’s made with real ginger, it’s also good for soothing an upset stomach.
Ginger beer is my FAVORITE fermented soda. It’s so easy to catch and maintain the starter. I love playing with flavor. I love the boost of antioxidants. It doesn’t become vinegary, like kombucha. It isn’t too sweet, water kefir. The culture doesn’t need the constant feeding and care that other probiotic beverages require.
It’s the perfect beverage for anyone seeking the health benefits of a probiotic pop!
Ginger beer or ginger ale?
Want to know the difference between ginger beer and ginger ale?
Ginger ale is a ginger-flavored soda pop that has not been fermented. My bet is that it’s a modern, shelf-stable version of the more traditional ginger beer.
Ginger beer is made using the ginger bug, a wild-yeast culture that is made from sugar and ginger. It’s easy to catch the ginger bug at home. And it’s just as easy to brew your own traditional ginger beer!
A Few Notes on Brewing Ginger beer
Like all yeast fermented beverages (eg. kombucha,) homemade ginger beer has a few particular features. Here are a few additional details for anyone new to fermenting.
Ginger bug needs to be fed sucrose. So you can’t use alternative sweeteners like honey, agave, or maple syrup.
I like to use panela sugar for a nice dark brown ginger beer (see below). You can also use white sugar or coconut palm sugar (see above).
Regardless, I recommend using raw sugar rather than bright white sugar. The bright white color requires the addition of sulfites, which slows down fermentation.
Traditional fermented ginger beer is non-alcoholic beverage. Wild-yeasts just can’t ferment to alcohol levels much above 1% ABV. Using a ginger bug starter means that this beverage is unlikely to ferment to above 0.5% ABV.
If you want to brew alcoholic ginger beer, then you would need to use commercial brewing yeast. And that is a different sort of recipe. I personally haven’t tried it, but it’s definitely on my to-do list!
However, this lovely probiotic beverage is perfect for mixing into cocktails! Here are two trad options:
- For a very hot and spicy ginger beer, add hot pepper to the ferment. Slice the hot pepper in half and add it with the grated ginger. Then remove it out when bottling. It will really give your beverage a bite!
- If you want a mild beverage, replace some or all of the ginger with grated fresh turmeric root. The result is an antioxidant-rich and bright orange drink. My kids love a 50/50 mix of turmeric and ginger.
- Cranberry ginger ale is a classic Canadian holiday drink.
- Ginger bug can be used to brew all sorts of flavors of ginger soda pop. Here’s a post on different ways to flavor ginger bug soda.
Homemade Ginger Beer
Traditional ginger beer is easy to make at home. It is made with the ginger bug, which is a wild yeast culture fed on ginger and sugar. Homemade ginger beer is refreshingly probiotic, spicy, and delicious! It’s also a traditional remedy for digestive issues and nausea.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 4 cups 1x
- Category: Beverages
- Method: Fermented
- Cuisine: British
- Diet: Gluten Free
- 3 1/2 cups water (chlorine-free)
- 4 to 6 Tbsp raw sugar (see above for options)
- 1/4 cup ginger bug starter
- 1 to 4 Tbsp finely grated ginger (see notes for details)
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (not bottled, see notes)
- Mix all the ingredients in a 1 quart (1 L) glass jar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
- Cover with a piece of cloth or coffee filter held in place with a rubber band or metal ring. Ginger bug needs exposure to air for fermentation so don’t ferment in a sealed jar.
- Place the jar somewhere warm and dark to ferment for 3 to 5 days and give it a good stir each day. The speed of the ferment will depend on the temperature. It will go quickly at temperatures above 70 F (21 C).
- It’s ready to bottle when bubbles are forming at the top of the jar. Strain the mixture and bottle it in a bottle that can handle the carbonation. See notes for more details.
- Allow the ginger beer to ferment in the bottle for a further 2 to 5 days to build up the carbonation.
- Once it’s fizzy, store the ginger beer in the refrigerator and consume it within four weeks.
- It’s important to monitor carbonation. Either use plastic pop bottles or swing-top bottles that can handle the pressure of carbonation. Check the carbonation by popping open the swing-top bottles every day or squeezing the plastic bottle.
- The more ginger you use, the more flavor you will have in your ginger beer. Also, the beer will ferment quicker with more ginger. It’s really a matter of personal preference whether you want to use 1 Tbsp or 4 Tbsp of ginger. If you aren’t certain, then use 2 Tbsp, which is still quite mild. Likewise, the amount of sugar is optional. Using 4 Tbsp will result in a less sweet ginger beer. For a typical ginger beer use the full 6 Tbsp.
- Bottled lemon juice is very high in sulfites, which will slow down the fermentation. Use freshly squeezed lemon juice instead.
Keywords: probiotic, ginger ale, ginger beer, stomach soothing, anti-nausea, morning sickness, motion sickness, travel sickness, spring, summer, fall